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Israel to indict 2 Palestinians accused of involvement in Damascus Gate attack

July 12, 2017 2:35 P.M. (Updated: July 12, 2017 3:39 P.M.)
Palestinians shot dead after attack outside of Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City on June 16, 2017.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police said Wednesday that investigations concluded regarding two Palestinians accused of involvement in a deadly attack outside of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City last month, in which three Palestinian assailants were shot dead and an Israeli border police officer was fatally stabbed.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri reported that charges were expected to be filed against the two suspects later Wednesday.

A 52-year-old man from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya was accused of driving the three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank -- who did not have Israeli permits to be in the city -- the day before the attack.

Al-Samri wrote that the man transported the three young men, two of them 18 and one 19 year old, “to allegedly pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, taking a long and indirect roads to drive them to Damascus Gate.”

A Palestinian man from the Ramallah area was accused of “organizing and assisting the three terrorists.”

The two suspects were interrogated for causing the death of others by negligence, and have seen their detentions extended multiple times. A list of charges is expected to be brought against them by the Israeli public prosecution later Wednesday.

“It should be clarified once again that any person that transports a person, Palestinian or not, without a legal permit to enter Israel, will be considered transferring a potential terrorist and will take the responsibility of all consequences without any exceptions,” al-Samri wrote.

She further warned that “any person who is involved in any way in violence and terrorism” will be detained “sooner or later” and will be presented to “severe justice.”

Israeli forces imposed a massive security crackdown in the wake of the attack that was denounced as “collective punishment.”

The mother and father of one of the slain Palestinians Adel Ankoush were also detained after speaking out about the death of their child and were accused of “incitement.”

The mother, Zeinab, has since been released on a $1,700 bail and on the condition that a third party sign a $5,660 bond to guarantee that she attend future court sessions.

The homes of the families of the three slain Palestinians have also been ordered to be punitively demolished by the Israeli army.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people will be left homeless once they are carried out, none of whom who have been charged with any wrongdoing.

Family members of the alleged assailants also had their Israeli work permits revoked, including 50 who were dependent on work inside Israel. Some 250,000 Palestinians who had received family visitation permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan also saw their permits revoked following the attack.

The bodies of the three alleged assailants have continued to be held by Israeli authorities, as Israel is known to withhold Palestinian bodies from their families for extended periods of time after they have carried out an attack, alleging that funerals of “martyrs” -- Palestinians killed by Israeli forces -- encourage “incitement” against the Israeli state.

“This automatic form of retaliation has become a matter of policy for the military, in a cynical abuse of its power to mistreat civilians,” Israeli NGO B'Tselem said following the attack.
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